Muskeegon Chronical writer Steve Gunn was returning home after a few days at a music festival in Colorado. Steve’s travel agent had him flying from Denver to Detroit and then connecting to a flight from Detroit to Grand Rapids. This is a common pattern in air travel. Customers fly from one big city to another and then catch a short flight to their regional airport. It happens hundreds of times each day in Detroit alone.

As Gunn was standing in security line at the Detroit airport when a young woman in a uniform approached him.
[…]
After explaining that he was just returning home, the TSA agent’s question started getting a bit more invasive. She wanted to know “where home was” — and that’s when Gunn realized that something was not right about this questioning and he asked why the agent needed to know all of this. Her response was that this was part of a new security “pilot program,” […] the TSA “Chat-Down.”

While talking (they’re looking for who is lying, etc.) is better than the nude scan or groping, the most interesting part is why he thinks he was singled out for questioning.



  1. NobodySpecial says:

    They used to do a similar thing in the UK flying between Britain and Northern Ireland (back in the day when catholics were the religos enemy within )

    My normal way of dealing with this is to stand at attention and with the traditional staring at a point 2 inches left the drill sergeants ear answer all their questions with;

    Sir yes Sir.
    Sir boarding the plane Sir

    Amazing how embarrassed and unable to talk a short minimum wage airport security rent-a-cop gets after 30sec of everyone in the lounge staring at them

    • msbpodcast says:

      Amazing how embarrassed and unable to talk a short minimum wage airport security rent-a-cop gets after 30sec of everyone in the lounge staring at them. 🙂

      Ach, he can nae ha’e been a proper Irishman.

      They’ll gab yor ear off, while making you buy them pints.

      • NobodySpecial says:

        They only seem to do this in England when you are getting off a flight from Belfast.
        No I wouldn’t try it with the rather one sided sectarian security in Belfast – especially not with a “Mc” on the front of my name.

  2. Mut says:

    TSA is the new Stasi.

  3. You have papers? says:

    “One more question… Who won the World Series in 1939?”

    “Your answer, please. Quickly!”

    • NobodySpecial says:

      What is your name?
      What is your quest?
      What is the airspeed velocity of a fully laden swallow?

      >African or European?

      I don’t know … arghhhh ……

  4. noname says:

    What if you a normal person who gets annoyed at stupid questions? (don’t taze me bro?)

    Or is it’s the governments view, their questions are never stupid! And you citizen, must answer all (not allowed to not respond) and be exceedingly grateful the government even took time to talk with you?

  5. orchidcup says:

    How do I know they are not a criminal impersonating a TSA agent and phishing for personal information?

    I would ask for an I.D. and request to see their supervisor before answering any personal questions.

  6. NewformatSux says:

    You belong to the government. Stop whining about your rights.

  7. B. Dog says:

    Let’s put the shoe on the other foot. What if he had been asking little questions to the young woman and getting nowhere, shouted “We have another refusal here!”

  8. McCullough says:

    Question: How is this any different than the Gestapo boarding trains and asking for your papers?

    Ans. It’s not.

    And yet people still vote for those who insisted on this type of behavior in a provision in the NDAA. Obama insisted on this provision. Dems and Repubs agreed.

    So really, just suck it up….you asked for it.

    • NobodySpecial says:

      At least they made the trains run on time!

      The Gestapo might have scored poorly on human resources targets for racial sensitivity – but you can’t fault their work place efficiency.

      • McCullough says:

        Yes they were stunningly efficient with the ovens as well.

        • NobodySpecial says:

          Wrong department.

          However by fusing the ‘regular’ police with the SS, Himmler was able to control the operation of the police under the Reich Security Main Office (the organization responsible for the holocaust) without any state or judicial oversight.

          Sound familiar?

    • msbpodcast says:

      Funny but that happens to me every time I go to/come from Montréal.

      Its the strip search I used to object to. 🙁 Nobody asks me anymore. <sigh>…)

  9. orchidcup says:

    Whatever happened to the STRIP Act, a House bill that stands for Stop TSA’s Reach In Policy, that was introduced last year?

    The STRIP Act is not some adult show.

    It’s a new House bill that stands for Stop TSA’s Reach In Policy and would prevent Transportation Security Administration officers from wearing law enforcement uniforms and police-like badges and calling themselves officers unless they receive law enforcement training.

    “Congress has sat idly by as the TSA strip searches 85-year-old grandmothers in New York, pats down 3-year-olds in Chattanooga, and checks colostomy bags for explosives in Orlando. Enough is enough!” said the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) “The least we can do is end this impersonation, which is an insult to real cops.”

    The American Federation of Government Employees said the bill was insulting to the 44,000 TSA workers it represented and did “nothing to add to our national security.’’

    “Every single member of Congress should be supporting federal employees, not trying to demean them,” the union’s national president, John Gage, said in a statement.

    Charlie Leocha, director of the Consumer Travel Alliance, said his advocacy group supported the measure.

    “I just think it’s important to not present an image to the public which is not true,” he said, adding that TSA had gone from “more of a friendly operation … there to help you” to workers who were “intimidating passengers.”

    The bill, which has drawn 29 co-sponsors in the few weeks since it was introduced, would prohibit any TSA employee “who has not received federal law enforcement training or is not eligible for federal law enforcement benefits from using the official job title of officer, or wearing a metal badge resembling a police badge or a uniform resembling the uniform of a federal law enforcement officer.”

    A TSA official said the badge and uniform represent “the professionalism of our employees and the seriousness of our work.”

    The agency, which changed the name of screeners to officers in 2005, said in a statement:

    “TSA’s frontline workforce protects the traveling public at airports across the country every day, and every day our officers stop deadly weapons from getting on aircraft. In 2008, as part of the organization’s continued efforts to transition the workforce to a cadre of well-trained, professional transportation security officers, TSA introduced uniforms more reflective of the critical nature of their work and of the high standards they uphold.”

    The turbulence over Blackburn’s bill comes as the House on Tuesday is poised to send to President Obama a popular measure that would require TSA to develop an expedited screening system for military personnel and, “to the extent possible,” accompanying family members, if the armed forces member is traveling on orders and in unform.

    The measure was introduced by Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-Minn.), a Navy veteran and former commercial airline pilot, after he witnessed military personnel experience lengthy waits, including having to take off their boots and medals, at security checkpoints at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

    “Our soldiers who are sent off to fight for our country or returning from the battlefield deserve to be treated like VIPs in our airports,” Cravaack said at a recent hearing.

    Last week, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on TSA to designate a “passenger advocate” at every airport who can be summoned by passengers to hear their concerns if they feel they have been inappropriately treated by screeners.

    His request came after an elderly woman claimed that she was strip-searched at John F. Kennedy Airport. TSA says it does not conduct strip searches.

    • NobodySpecial says:

      I think he is right about the confusion between “real” police, airport security mall cops, parking meter enforcement and TSA.

      Purely for safety reasons the TSA should wear something distinctive and, this being an airport, high visibility.

      Might I suggest orange jump suits? Practical, colorful, easy to distinguish and so fetching.

  10. The Monster's Lawyer says:

    Maybe it was because his last name is Gunn?

  11. Guyver says:

    EVERY time I travel on business, I am ALWAYS instructed to leave my checked-in luggage with TSA.

    Probably due to the industry I work in and who my employer is. But that’s just my speculation.

    Choke government spending and limit the size of government. You will minimize the stupidity that goes on… but leave it to the liberals who keep insisting larger more powerful government is a good thing for the citizens.

    • orchidcup says:

      but leave it to the liberals who keep insisting larger more powerful government is a good thing for the citizens.

      W. Bush initiated the DHS, the most expensive security apparatus in the world.

      • dusanmal says:

        Clarification for both : PROGRESSIVE Bush administration and PROGRESSIVE Obama administration initiated and grew and empowered DHS. DHS is all what Progressives on Left and Right dream of. Problem is not in Left or Right. Problem is in Big Government from Left or Right. Problem are Progressives whose political and economic policies are ruining US for last 12 years and diminishing our freedoms.

        • Phydeau says:

          It’s so cute how you and Alfie just redefine words at your leisure, like “Progressive”. Or should I say, how you regurgitate the redefinitions you read somewhere on some right-wing wacko blog.

          BTW, did you know that “Republican” now means “Child Molester”? It’s true! I read it on the internets! 😉

        • Joan Dvorak says:

          I forget, are you a serbian or a bosnian?

        • msbpodcast says:

          I looked up the dictionary definition of the word progressive for you so you don’t embarrass yourself anymore.

          progressive |prəˈgresiv|
          adjective
          1 happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step: a progressive decline in popularity.
          • (of a disease or ailment) increasing in severity or extent: progressive liver failure.
          • (of taxation or a tax) increasing as a proportion of the sum taxed as that sum increases: steeply progressive income taxes.
          • (of a card game or dance) involving a series of sections for which participants successively change place or relative position.
          • archaic engaging in or constituting forward motion.
          2 (of a group, person, or idea) favoring or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas: a relatively progressive governor.
          • favoring or promoting change or innovation: a progressive art school.
          • relating to or denoting a style of rock music popular esp. in the 1980s and characterized by classical influences, the use of keyboard instruments, and lengthy compositions.
          3 Grammar denoting an aspect or tense of a verb that expresses an action in progress, e.g., am writing, was writing . Also called continuous.
          noun
          1 a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas.
          2 Grammar a progressive tense or aspect: the present progressive.
          3 (also progressive proof )Printing each of a set of proofs of color work, showing all the colors separately and the cumulative effect of overprinting them.
          DERIVATIVES
          progressively adverb,
          progressiveness noun,
          progressivism |-ˈgresəˌvizəm|noun,
          progressivist |-ˈgresəvist|noun& adjective
          ORIGIN early 17th cent.: from French progressif, -ive or medieval Latin progressivus, from progress- ‘gone forward,’ from the verb progredi (see progress) .

        • msbpodcast says:

          Looking at the text and divining your intent I can guess that the work you actually mean to use is agressive, (look it up in the book of knowledge yourself.)

        • ReadyKilowatt says:

          12 years? Try 112 years.

  12. Glenn E. says:

    If the female TSAs were attractive, I imagine most guys wouldn’t stop talkin to them. Only devote terrorists wouldn’t want to talk to them at all. Or some super pious religious types. But Quakers don’t fly commercial air, very much. And some priests might prefer chatting with an attractive young male. They’d have to profile people’s tastes pretty good, not to get some false positives with this technique.

  13. Glenn E. says:

    Or one could really put the TSA off it’s game by learning to speak Esperanto. And answering them that way. I doubt very maybe TSAers would know Esperanto.

  14. bobbo, one true Liberal accusing Obama being too far Right says:

    Cry baby citizen.

    You have to be a real egotist to think that everyone should know that you are ok and not doing anything wrong. Any true Liberal will empathize with the working class security agent and help them do their job. Answer all questions slowly and directly, as if talking to a child.

    You know ….. like a blog.

  15. bobbo, one true Liberal accusing Obama being too far Right says:

    “While talking (they’re looking for who is lying, etc.) is better than the nude scan or groping, the most interesting part is why he thinks he was singled out for questioning.” /// The link in the link to get to Steve Gunn’s best guess is:

    http://theblaze.com/stories/get-ready-for-tsa-chat-downs-author-tells-theblaze-about-a-new-airport-security-procedure-you-might-not-know-about/

    and is:
    “The idea is to keep dangerous materials that could be used in a terrorist attack off commercial airliners. Fair enough. But stopping people because they look sort of funny to security agents, and probing into their personal business, is going too far.”

    Hmmm. In a line of normal looking people, looks like TSA made the right call.

    My friends: this is all about what happens when you live in an increasingly compressed society with greater and greater complexity (ie–easier to attack): you lose freedom. An air terminal in a busy 21st century airport is not the same place as the wilderness of the 18th century between Chicago and Philadelphia.

    suck it up.

    • noname says:

      bobbo, one true Liberal, You suck it up!

      I prefer to retain my rights and not give them away willy-nilly for some “not scientifically proven” effective rights intrusion.

      Every objective measure, audit(s) finds again & again TSA’s Training of Airport Screeners as Rushed, Poorly Supervised.

      Now you “believe” afresh, in their new and next act in TSA security theater? What a SUCKER!

      It’s the classic “boiling a frog”! Increase the water temperature slowly. Before the frog knows it, its cooked.

      This is how the Government will deny us our constitutional rights. Fascist authoritarianism change can be implemented if you keep the changes below the detection threshold (also called the just noticeable
      difference or JND), the smallest physical difference between two stimuli that a person
      can reliably detect 50 percent of the time!

      All the TSA is doing, is testing what that JND is, so they can implement their next baby step of authoritarianism!

      WAKE UP AMERICA!

      • jpfitz says:

        Boiling the frog slowly is a great metaphor for what’s happening in the U.S. today. I’m surprised at you bobbo, slowly boiling to death or worse.

        I had a similar experience at LAX. I was asked by the agent feeling me up if I owned a gun, whose luggage bag I had borrowed and where my daughter works. I just kept a smile on my face and answered his questions as evasively as I could without too much sarcasm.

  16. Dan says:

    The U.S.S.R. died in 1991.Nature abhors a vacuum so the U.S. turned into the U.S.S.A.

    • noname says:

      Isn’t that the truth!

      It’s the classic, You become what you hate.

      There isn’t much the Russians did, that U.S. haven’t embraced in both rhetoric and deed.

      In fact we are using the same reasoning, national security.

      We fool ourself’s, thinking we can handle it because we are smarter and better then the Russians.

  17. Mr. McOooo says:

    Pretend to be stone deaf:

    “Where are you going, sir?”

    “WHAT???”

    “Where are you going, sir?”

    “I’M SORRY! I’M A LITTLE HARD OF HEARING! COULD YOU SPEAK A LITTLE LOUDER??”

    “Where are you going, sir?”

    “MY GROIN??? WHY ARE YOU ASKING ME ABOUT MY GROIN????”

    • noname says:

      BRILLIANT & NICE!

      I just jump to the tag line after the 1st question, makes it seem more real!

  18. Mister B says:

    Let’s not forget that the REPUBLICAN PARTY is responsible for the TSA….because they are all in favor of personal rights.


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